the written word

Do you cherish nice things people say about you? or to you?

Do you save the occasional email that has words of encouragement or praise?

Perhaps I’m strange, but I do this.  I save these things so that sometime in the future, when I may be having a bad day or going through a difficult time I can open them up, read them and feel encouraged, or blessed.

I lead a pretty blessed life.  I have a job that I enjoy, plenty of food, clothing and shelter. My parents live nearby.  My husband and daughter are both healthy, wonderful, amazing people.  And I get to do things that I really enjoy, just for fun.

For many people on our planet, what I just described looks like a life of ease and luxury.  They spend their time scraping to come up with enough food, they live in conditions that you wouldn’t put your worst enemy from 5th grade through.  they have no access at all to safe water.  Never mind clean or clear, let’s just settle for “safe”…nope.  can’t find any.  Their daughters are prey to the sex trade and they have no access to legal re-dress.  They wouldn’t even know where to start.

If an encouraging word is a cherished possession for someone like me, can you imagine how important it could be for children growing up in environments like that ?

If you sponsor a child through  Compassion International (or some other agency) write to them.    Bless them with words of encouragement. 

Give them a gift that they can literally pull out of their pocket and read.  Over and over and over again.  Anytime they need it, your voice can be there.

But only if you write.

platform blog

I don’t often do this…..don’t often ask my readers to participate in a charity drive of any kind.  I generally believe that people are best left to pick their own charity that is closest to their heart.  The one God has laid on them personally.

My main charity emphasis has always been Compassion International which is a group that matches caring people with an individual child that you can help and correspond with.

But today I got a facebook invite to be a part of a very simple food drive this Saturday, May 8th.

http://www.helpstampouthunger.com

Why should you participate?

simple.

Jesus told us to Feed the Poor.

He didn’t say “make them fill out an application to see if they are worthy”

He never said “wait to see if they have stopped drinking booze before you feed them”

Christ didn’t say “make sure to witness to them as you hand them the food” (on that note, simply FEEDING them IS our witness to them as a demonstration of Grace – unmerited favor)

He never mentioned the concept of “the deserving poor or the UN-deserving poor”

He just said Feed the Hungry.

And actually it wasn’t just Christ that said it.  This command has been showing up in the Bible since Old Testament times.  There are over 300 mentions of how we are to take care of the poor and needy in the Bible.

I’ll leave you with two.  You can look up the others if you are interested.

John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”
Luke 3:11

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:9-11

I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like a wonderful promise.  Something I’d be willing to do almost anything to get.

In most of Christianity we have to accept a free gift – grace.  Something we can NEVER do ANYTHING to earn.  It is hard for us to wrap our brains around grace.   But this is something we are told to do and that it will have have direct results.

I want the LORD to guide me.

Always.

Do you have extra non-perishable food in your pantry? set it out for your postal worker to pick up this Saturday.

It is that simple.

my child is hurting

“my child is hungry”
“my child just lost their parents”
“my child just lost her home”
“please help”

“please?”

these are the words I imagine you might read from a parent in Haiti right now.

If they blogged.

but they don’t so I’m gonna say it for them.

please give.

I don’t care what organization you give through, but please give.
I chose to use Compassion International because I am already familiar with them, but whoever you choose to give through, do it today.

There are approximately 40 people who read this blog regularly.  If each of them gives at least $10…..well $400 can buy a lot of clean water and aid for people whose lives have been turned upside down by the earthquake in Haiti.

please?

and if I haven’t convinced you, read the words from our Lord –

Matthew 25: 37-45

37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

change the world

This weekend I get to go to Atlanta Fest.  A Christian Music festival held in a park near my hometown.

Go here if you want to know more.

There’s a great line-up of musicians and speakers.

But I’m not going for that.

It will be a great day out in the sun, praising Jesus through loud music.

While that is wonderful, I’m not going for that.

I’m gonna lose at least three pounds just sweating in the Georgia heat.

fantastic.  But that’s not why I’m going.

I’m going because of a kid named Esteban.

And one named Kiran. And millions of others whose names I don’t yet know, but whose packets I will get to see on Saturday.

I’m going to Atlanta Fest because I am excited about the privilege of working at the Compassion booth.  My shift is only from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m.

I doubt I’ll be able to change the world in just 4 hours.

But, God willing, we may be able to change someONE’s world.

Compassion works very differently than a lot of other charities.  Compassion goes to a lot of trouble to put the real donors in constant touch with the real beneficiaries; the children.

When you sign up to sponsor a child you aren’t giving money to go into some pool with no way of understanding the impact except through some generic form letter that all donors get twice a year.  Nope. Compassion spends a vast amount of energy making sure that you and your sponsored child can exchange direct letters.

Talk about soccer players you each like.

Write about your struggles and the verse God gave you to help you through it.

Send photos and drawings that will be treasured and be ready to put up drawings that will get sent to you.

You can have a lifelong RELATIONSHIP with a child across the world from you.  And those letters, that relationship means almost more to these kids than the money.

When you walk up to a Compassion table, you will see packets.  Each packet is the ONLY packet on that child.  It’s not like getting an information leaflet that you can fool yourself into thinking is just worth the paper and ink.  No the weight, the reality of a child adds heft. meaning to that piece of paper.

Its the same way when you get your first letter from your actual child.  That is when it really becomes real.  You have opened your heart to someone a world away.  Someone who needs you.  I’m hoping that my sponsorship of Esteban will not only impact him and his family, but also give my own child a sense of perspective.  Foster a sense of compassion in her from an early age.

The work Compassion does is something I feel very strongly about (can you tell?) but here’s the rub: when I feel strongly about things, I have a tendency to be a bit much.  In conversation especially, and sometimes even on the blog.  Sometimes I’m sarcastic (when I think I’m being funny), sometimes I’m just too enthused and excited and it comes across as pushy.  All of which scares me.  I’m going to be helping represent these children to the public on Saturday and I don’t want my sometimes forceful personality to get in the way.

So please pray for me? pray that God would just shove my personality under the table and that HE would shine out and bring Glory to Himself.  I want to speak only God’s words.

And pray for the people at Atlanta Fest this weekend.  That God would be preparing hearts to honor him by taking care of the least of these.

oh, and you don’t have to come to Atlanta Fest in order to sponsor a child.  You can go on-line and search for a child to connect with, pray for and help change their world.

miles of smiles

I want to make people smile.

Not like a comedian, Not laugh like haha, but smile with quiet joy.  I want to make people happy.  I want people to feel good just by being in the same room with me.

Yesterday I gave someone a smile when they needed it and when they commented on it I happened to be near my computer which has this photo of my 8 month old girl on it.

Without thinking I said “I want to be more like her” and pointed to the photo.

7th-month-005

Ginny makes people smile.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone look at this baby girl and frown.  Or even remain neutral.  EVERYONE smiles. Most people bubble with laughter.  She just does that to people.

Then I thought about that.  What is it that Ginny has that people can see and that makes them smile?  It is very tempting to ascribe her joy to innocence.  And to a certain extent that would be accurate.  Ginny expects good from everyone, because she has received only good so far in her life.

But innocence is not a permanent wellspring for joy.  It is not a safe thing to depend on for lifelong, sustaining, bubbling joy.  Innocence can be eroded.  It can be shattered. It can be stripped away by any number of things, acts, or people.

We cannot hold on to innocence.  It evaporates.

So then what?  Where do we find joy?  Especially a joy that allows us to give happiness and joy to our fellow creatures?

Some people find joy in celebrations. wedding-july05-set4-033_jpg Weddings,  parties, holidays, family gatherings   (of course some people find those things incredibly annoying, but that’s another post….) . Some people find joy in making other people happy. But that is not a safe source either.  It too is fleeting.  Requiring energy and efforts that will eventually wear out.

Others find joy in gifts.  Giving or getting.  But that too is human based and will eventually wear thin.  Or the budget will run out.

Joy, at least the kind that can be given away freely, and unreservedly shared with others HAS to come from an inexhaustible source.  It cannot come from anything mortal, or anything influenced by mortal, fallible, fragile humans.

Joy of that kind has to come from an infinite source.  God.

A heart filled with God’s joy, God’s own blood, God’s desires.  This is not something that can be achieved.  You can’t work hard enough to make it happen.  There is no possible way for any human being to know the heart of God.  You would have to somehow have a heart transplant from God himself.  How could you possibly perform spiritual heart surgery on yourself?  You can’t do it.  I can’t do it.  Another human being can’t do it for you.  But God can.  And it’s not just that He can….he WILL. He promises that He will.  In Ezekiel 36:26 he explicitly states that he will do this for us.  He will give us a new heart.  HIS HEART.  But you have to allow it.  You have to just give up to God.

Only God can give the kind of joy in the midst of trouble that makes THIS smile possible:

kiran

This girl, this child has every reason not to smile.  Go read about her here, marvel at her joy-filled smile.

A mile long smile that could only have come from God.

the electronic baby book

I do not want to take attention away from what is happening in India right now. It is hugely meaningful and we all need to jump on the bandwagon and sponsor a child.

But since this blog is in essence a type of electronic baby book,  I do feel compelled to record the fact that my baby girl loves strained peas.

Ginny just turned 8 months old yesterday and I will be posting photos of her soon, but I just had to make sure I record, for posterity, that one small fact.

She took both rice and oatmeal cereals well.  She was okay with carrots. She put up with sweet potatoes.

BUT

She LOVES pureed green peas.

She also knows the difference between American soccer and European soccer.  Or at least, she knows which one she likes best.

How do I know this?  Well Martin is a soccer fiend and has recently rediscovered a passion for the English football club called Arsenal. (I personally am into Manchester United, but so is everybody else, so that’s nothing special)  Martin has been a fan of Arsenal since he was a little boy living in England.

Arsenal is an okay club, but rooting for them over the years was sort of like being a Cubs fan for a while there……..until this year when all of a sudden they are in the semi finals of the UEFA Champions cup.

So anyway, we’ve been watching a lot of soccer.  And Ginny likes it.  She will sit up in Martin’s arms and watch intently for at least half the game, then snuggle down and go to sleep to the dull roar of an Arsenal match.

Well Americans do play soccer too.  And about a week ago Martin wanted to watch an american soccer match just to see if it was any fun to watch.  It wasn’t impressive.  I mean it wasn’t bad or anything.  But it just wasn’t the same. Kinda boring.  Even Ginny was fussy while we watched about half a game.

Eventually I called out from the kitchen, “can we please switch over to my Manchester United game ?  I mean I don’t know why, but I just can’t get into this”

The answer came back “yeh, okay.  This really isn’t doing anything for me either”

Martin picked up the remote, with Ginny held in his arms she was facing away from the TV.  He changed the program.  Now I’ve got my Man-U game on…..and Ginny’s head swiveled round and she bounced in Martins arms and gurgled.

She knew instantly that “her” type of soccer was on.  The crowd noise is vastly different and makes more of an impact on the enthusiasm of viewers than you might think.

So here’s to cheering sections every where: you ARE making a difference.  Whether you know it or not.

And here’s to the little one-person cheering section that is a Compassion child sponsor – YOU make a huge a difference in the life of your sposored child.  You could be the first person who consistently tells them that they are loved and that they can do something with their lives.

And that can make all the difference.

i am not worthy

not long ago I was at a concert and raised my hand

“yes, I will sponsor a compassion child

I clutched the packet with a child’s photograph in it and briefly regretted that I was letting God pick the child for me instead of searching the Compassion website and picking one for myself.  But I reminded myself that this randomness was a way to keep ME out of the decision and let God direct which child I get to connect with.

So I wrote my bank info in the appropriate places, turned in the form.  Shook (shaked?) hands with Shaun Groves and thanked him for the opportunity.  Then I went to go get in line to meet Travis Cottrell.

I didn’t forget “my child” I knew his name was Esteban.

I got on-line the next day and looked for more info on him and in a short time I wrote him a letter via email.  I was content to let it stop there for now.

Then a short while ago the news started flying around in blog-land about the Compassion Trip to India.  and a couple of my favorite people (Angie and Melissa) were going to be on the trip.  I’ve always loved India.  Not the place (since I’ve never been) but the idea of India.  The culture, the food, the clothes.  India is just way more appealing to me than the home country of my little Esteban.  I had thoughts of adding another Compassion child to my refrigerator.

then I thought, No.  Don’t do that to Esteban.

Sure it would be cool to participate more closely with Melissa and Angie and Shaun, but I would be short changing Esteban.  and I haven’t even really managed to feel connected to him yet.

then the letter arrived.

From Esteban.

in his own handwriting.

somehow I hadn’t quite expected that.

The drawing, the typed translation by some random adult, those I was prepared for…….but then I turned the page over and saw, in pencil, with eraser marks…..

Esteban’s own handwriting.

And for some insane reason I feel as if it was a letter from Christ himself. (Matthew 25:40)

please sponsor a child through compassion or some other agency if you wish.  but please do it.  and if I haven’t managed to convince you, go read melissa’s post about the subject of God’s mandate to us to give to the poor and needy.